Lee, Clive, Sally, Colin, Sara, Victor, Willemien, Anne and Miro travelled down on the Friday, Georgi on Saturday morning. Most of us camped at Swanage Bijou Camping, which is a tidy, summer-only campsite within walking distance of the town centre. Staff at the campsite let us leave our tents pitched until Sunday afternoon, which meant we didn’t have to frantically decamp and pack away dew-damp tents early that morning.
Those of us carrying club kit went down to the pier early on Saturday and Sunday mornings to be there when the pier gates were opened at 7am. This is where Ross’s car (borrowed by Sally and Clive) and the van (rented by Victor) proved very useful – it meant we could get all the club kit down to the pier early, and – along with Lee, who also came down early – could kit-up together near the steps to the water. It also meant others could have a longer sleep at the campsite, and walk down to the pier later in the morning when it was time to dive.
Lee organised the dives. On Saturday we did a dive under Swanage pier in the morning, which allowed us to sort kit and get used to the water before the afternoon’s boat dive (Fleur de Lys - £20 per diver), which for some of us was our first ever dive in UK waters. On Sunday we did another boat dive (Valentine Tanks - £24) at 10.45am, followed by an afternoon pier dive. Waters were a very pleasant 17-18 degrees C, visibility was 5 metres under the pier and 5-10 metres on the boat dives, and a fair amount of wildlife was seen, including Leach’s spider crabs hiding in snakelocks anemones under the pier, conger eels at Valentine Tanks, large jellyfish seen during our safety stops, mermaids purses and tompot blennies. An additional trip to Kimmeridge Bay for snorkelling didn’t happen due to time constraints – a specific trip (or half a day of a future weekend visit) may need to be organised for that next time.
For food we went to a local chippy on Friday evening, booked and ate at La Trattoria on the Saturday (pretty good), had pasties for lunch, and visited a local caff for breakfasts. Some of us were slightly devastated to learn that Kaffee und Kuchen on High Street has closed down, but we tried to remember that cake is not the most important thing in life.